To the dismay of several people, no Sacramento Kings will participate in this year’s slam dunk contest. It’s quite a shame, since the Kings are dunking harder, higher and flashier than ever before.
Two leapers currently on the Kings, Derrick Williams and Ben McLemore, participated in previous NBA dunk contests. And a third player, Ryan Hollins, always wished he could.
“Man, I think it was a popularity thing. My earlier years, the league wouldn’t let me in,” Hollins told Cowbell Kingdom. “But I tried to get in. I think I may have passed that time. I don’t know, it might still be in there. It takes me a while to get going now.”
Back in 2012, Williams, who was on the Minnesota Timberwolves, placed fourth in a fan voting contest. The 6-foot-8 forward threw down a dunk off the side of the backboard assisted by Ricky Rubio, but his most memorable jam was a soaring windmill over a Harley Davidson motorcycle.
“I was asking the guys that were on the team at that time, just trying to get ideas and things like that,” Williams explained to Cowbell Kingdom on the thought process. “And they were like, ‘Oh, well Blake did the car thing, you should do something a little different,’ so I just chose the bike.”
McLemore competed as the fourth King ever in the contest last season. Under a West vs. East format, he, Damian Lillard and Harrison Barnes floundered their combined freestyle session, but in his solo opportunity, the 6-foot-5 wing slammed a hard one-hander over a sitting Shaquille O’Neal.
“Playing for the Sacramento Kings and knowing that Shaq was a partial owner too, it seemed like a good idea to have Shaq to join and collab with the dunk contest.” McLemore said. “We came up with the great idea of dunking over him, Shaq-lemore, and stuff like that.”
“Stuff” referred to the goofy, extra semantics which certainly added flair to the dunk. But John Wall later won his “battle round” with McLemore by double-clutching over the Washington Wizards’ mascot.
In both contest losses, rules played a factor. With declining ratings over the past decade, the league has started to regularly revamp the format.
“I think they’re still experimenting with different rules and things like that for the dunk contest, but I like the old rules better,” Williams added. “You get the judges out there, all the NBA legends and things like that so I think this year’s will be a little bit better.”
Luckily for Williams, albeit a little too late, the Sprite Slam Dunk will pay homage to its original roots. Only a two-round event, five judges will score Victor Oladipo, Giannis Antetokoumpo, Zach LaVine and Mason Plumlee as they’re afforded three tries and unlimited time per round.
“I’d probably go with the young fella, Zach LaVine,” proclaimed McLemore.
“Dark horse, I’d probably say, how do you say his name?” said Williams. “Antepoko? Is that how you say it? Greek Freek, that’s what they call him. So he’s a dark horse, but I’ll probably say Zach LaVine will win it. I’ve seen him jump and I think he’s going to bring some excitement.”
“Zach LaVine,” Hollins elaborated. “Not just because he’s a Bruin but I’m sure everybody has seen his summer workout tape. It was like ridiculous. He might be one of the highest jumpers since James White, so I can definitely see him winning it this year, if it doesn’t come down to props or some kind of gimmick.”
So there you have it. Zach LaVine is the 2015 Sprite Slam Dunk winner, brought to you by the Kings.